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148          MY    COUNTRY   AND   MY   PEOPLE

The Chinese girl in ancient times was actually less socially
accomplished than the Western girl, but under a good family
breeding she had a better chance of succeeding as wife and
mother and she had no career except the career of wife and
mother. The Chinese men are now faced with the dilemma of
choosing between the modern girl and the conservative girl for
a wife. The ideal wife has been described as one "with new
knowledge but old character.*5 The conflict of ideals (the new
one being the wife who is an independent being and who looks
down upon the expression "helpful wife and wise mother")
calls for a ruthless application of common sense. While I regard
the increased knowledge and education as an improvement
and approaching the ideal of womanhood,, I wager that we are
not going to find, as we have not yet found, a world-renowned
lady pianist or lady painter. I feel confident that her soup will
still be better than her poetry and that her real masterpiece
will be her chubby-faced boy. The ideal woman remains for
me the wise, gentle and firm mother.


The question may arise: How with the seclusion of women
was romance and courtship possible in China? Or rather in
what way was the natural love between young people in-
fluenced by this classical tradition? In youth and romance and
love, the world is pretty much the same, only the psychological
reactions differ as a result of different social traditions. For
secluded as women may be, no classical teaching has yet
succeeded in shutting out love. Its tenor and complexion may
be altered, for love, which is a gushing, overwhelming feeling
in nature, can become a small voice of the heart and thoughts.
Civilization may transform love but it never stifles it. Love is
there, only somehow receiving a different tenor and expression
accidentally borrowed, as it were, from a different social and
cultural background. It peeps in at the beaded curtains, it
fills the air of the back garden, and it tugs at the maiden's heart.
Perhaps she has no lover, and she does not quite know what
ails her. Perhaps she is not interested in any particular man,